Reading a good Romance Novel should be like a good sex- leaving you satisfied and happier than you were when you began. The Happily Ever After, or even the Happy For Now, are non-negotiable for most readers (and publishers).
But there has been a trend recently for novel series, which poses a challenge for the writers. How to wrap up the storyline, get to the HEA, but leave the door open for further novels? A stand-alone novel can tie up all the loose plot lines into a neat package, then have the couple ride off into the sunset, never to be heard from again. A series, however, has to throw out clues for the story to follow in the next book, and entice the reader to take the bait eagerly.
When it is done correctly, it works very well. I remember reading series where I couldn’t wait to read the next installment. But just like sex, I have also had a few that left me frustrated and were not worth the effort. I recall reading a novel where the (really graphic) foreplay and flirting went on for so long, I barely realized I was close to the end of the book. When I finally got to the last line of the book, I considered throwing it across the room, because the last line was something to the effect of “to be continued…..” It was followed by an excerpt from the next book, but I didn’t care by that point.
What a tease, and not in a good way! It wasn’t a “Sweet Romance” or an “Inspirational Romance”. If it was, I would have known the level of (or lack of) heat to expect. There was nothing on the covers to indicate that it was part of a series, but even if it was, 200 pages worth of foreplay is way too long to wait for consummation! I mean, really? Then they expected me to buy the next book, and wait who knows how many pages for the Hero and Heroine to finally get it on?
In some genres, romance without sex is appropriate. But in most genres under the heading of “ Romance”, readers expect the Hero and Heroine to do the deed at some point before the book ends, even if there is another book to follow. Any deviation from this formula must be supported by the storyline, and somehow justified. Otherwise, like the book I mentioned earlier, it seems like a ploy or tactic to delay gratification in order to coerce the reader to buy the next book in order to finally get satisfaction.
What do you think? Is it a cruel tease tactic to not have the Hero and Heroine “Do the Deed”? Or are you willing to wait if the story is good? Does it frustrate you when a book leaves you hanging?